As the queue snaked around the corner for Grazia’s first ever Hat Factor millinery competition, we managed to grab a few minutes with none other than the Brit millinery master to pop-stars and princesses alike, the ever-adorable Stephen Jones…
Grazia Daily: Hi Stephen. Oooh, I like your baker boy cap you have on for the occasion! So, what are you expecting or hoping to see today?
Stephen Jones: The unexpected! I’m looking for someone innovative, with a personal sense of fun that shows through their work. Someone who puts themselves into every design and every hat. That’s what it’s all about really, not fashion or glamour, but personality. I want to see something that will knock my socks off – a fantastic hat for a young person.
GD: Is it a hard industry to crack?
SJ: It can be, but essentially you can pick up anything and make a hat out of it! Anyone can start it, and then training will just help you get better and better.
GD: You’ve had an incredible round of A/W’12 catwalk shows which featured your creations. Tell us, what was your favourite?
SJ: It had to be working on the Louis Vuitton train! It was incredible! Marc and I were talking for a long time about old train movies and we watched things like Murder on the Orient Express for inspiration. We knew we wanted to make an exaggerated cloche and so we looked at pictures of Anna Piaggi (Italian fashion writer and style icon) from the ‘70s, too. It is a historically referenced piece, but our own modern creation. That’s what Marc wants – for the piece to be believably cool and funky.
GD: So what was the first had you ever made?
SJ: It was plastic carnations covered in car spray paint. I don’t think I would’ve stood a chance today.
GD: What are the biggest pros of wearing a hat?
SJ: Hats are easy! You don’t have to have great legs or spend hours getting your hair done, for example. They’re an easy route into looking individual and different. All you need is a head and most people have those… Plus, hats are the most transformative thing you’ll ever wear. From ladies of the manor to a spotty teenage boy – a good hat will do wonders!
GD: Which style is your all-time favourite?
SJ: The top hat. I’ve developed this shape year after year and I think it can look good on anyone. Men and women. It’s fun and light-hearted… and it makes you taller, and when you’re a 5’9’’ man, it’s a bonus!
GD: Who are your top hat wearers?
SJ: Anna Piagi, The Queen, Isabella Blow and of course, Kate Middleton. She makes it look convincing and effortless. She’s found a way to make formal hats look good on a young person. And she’s made being well-dressed and pretty – as opposed to just fashionably put-together – a good thing. She cleverly chooses smaller hats so that she can keep her hair down and on full show. I’ve noticed lots of younger people coming into my store and there’s a huge demand for hats everywhere – all sorts of stores are stocking them now.
GD: And finally, we have to ask, what do you think of the baseball hat comeback?
SJ: Well, if it’s done with a Salt n Peppa ‘80s or ‘90s vibe, then it’s fine by me! You have to be having a good time wearing these hats and not taking yourself too seriously. Try and be cool and you won’t look cool anymore!